Being “Pissed Off” Is Not a Solution

by James A. Bacon

Last week an unidentified group distributed a pamphlet addressed to the Board of Visitors: “We’re Pissed Off. You Should Be Too.” The tract argued that the governance structure at UVa is undemocratic, that faculty and student workers are underpaid, and that Board of Visitors member Bert Ellis (and Jefferson Council president) is an abomination who should be expelled from the board or, at the very least, be removed from his board committee assignments.

The authors did themselves no credit when referring to Ellis as “a known racist, homophobe, and bigoted asshole of a human being.” (The bold face is in the pamphlet.) That is not an invitation to a creating a dialogue and working out differences.

Having countered the slanders against Ellis elsewhere, I will not address them here. Rather, my intention is to take seriously the “We’re Pissed Off” critique of UVa’s governance structure. As puerile as its language is, the pamphlet is the only analysis we’ve seen (other than our own) that questions how UVa is run.

You will never see the issues raised by “We’re Pissed Off” in UVa Today, the mouthpiece of the Ryan administration, or in Virginia, the house organ of the University of Virginia Alumni Association. Such perspectives are rare even in the pages of the Cavalier Daily, which fixates on issues of racial, sexual and gender identity rather than how the university is governed.

We think the authors of “We’re Pissed Off” are wrong on almost every count. But occasionally they make a valid point. And other than their unhinged personal attacks on Ellis, they address important matters that warrant an open and honest discussion. These include such questions as:

  • Is UVa an “undemocratic” institution? Is power distributed among stakeholders as it should be?
  • Are faculty and student workers paid adequately for their work?
  • Can UVa tap its $14 billion endowment to increase employee compensation and/or reduce tuition?
  • Would a conservative-leaning Board of Visitors under Governor Glenn Youngkin “reverse every progressive policy … that took years to put into place”?

The Jefferson Council takes these issues seriously. We think they should be discussed. And if the authors of the tract wish to carry on a dialogue without engaging in character assassination, we are delighted to do so. If they paid attention to what we’re trying to accomplish, they might find we share a few areas of agreement.

I will address issues arising from the pamphlet in future posts.

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walter smith
walter smith
1 year ago

At least they didn’t say “numnuts.”
When will Jim the Messiah of Great and Good denounce the uncollegiality? Isn’t he “disappointed?”

I repeat – it is not up to the BOV being changed by maybe 2 more years of sane BOV appointments.
IT IS TIME TO ACT NOW! The people on the BOV don’t look like they are crazy. Presumably they have some real world success. Some achievement besides giving money to politicians. Maybe most are on for the honor and don’t want to do the heavy lifting. Then resign and let someone serious do it. To be called “racist” for asking sane questions. To be called a “transphobe” for acknowledging biological reality. Let me show you how – for free!
Emma Weyant was the NCAA champ. “Lia” Thomas is a male and a cheater. Biological males competing against biological women is inherently unfair, and…crazy. Angela Hucles Mangano knows that. So does any other sane person not captive to political idiocy that pervades the campus of all higher ed today.
UVA is breaking the law in admissions. UVA is destroying academic rigor. UVA is hell-bent focused on implementing policies that are racially and socially destructive – the opposite of what UVA says is intended.
The “costs” of DEI are multiples of the salaries. Do you have any idea how much teaching and researching time is lost due to engaging in the MANDATED racial virtue-signaling?
Examine all the courses in the Course catalog – you could eliminate half and only the professors of the arcane subject would care. UVA could easily cost half as much, and produce a better product.

One more thing – whoever is behind the sophomoric pamphlet (there is a reason that is an adjective) – come out! Say it in public. And reveal where the money came from. Was it Student Activities Fees? Contributions from a political party? An employee union?

Or, are you hiding because you fear to speak publicly? You fear that people will lie about you as you have lied about Bert, and TJC, and people who raise their hands and ask questions that imply they do not agree with you?

Character assassination is not virtue. Grow up.

And to the non-Youngkin BOV members, grow a spine and exercise oversight. Real adult oversight. It is your job.

Noel schwritzer
Noel schwritzer
1 year ago
Reply to  walter smith

I agree with walter i am an alumnus, ’69, College, Englush Lit.

Geoffrey Close
Geoffrey Close
1 year ago

I agree with Jim Bacon, that the pamphlet authors do bring up some points that should be discussed. But remember the authors are very young without any real-world experience. I’d wonder what they would say, say, 30 years from now. There’s an old adage which goes something like this: If you’re 20 and you’re not a Democrat, you have no soul. If you’re 50 and you’re not Republican, you have no brains. Let’s hope they can get passed character assassination and get to the real meat of the points they introduced.

1 year ago
Reply to  Geoffrey Close

You are being too kind. By a large measure. This kind of profane, uncivil, crass behavior is inexcusable. Never in 100 years would I have EVER done this in my early youth.

1 year ago

Jim, yet another superlative post.

I wish these profane leftist graduate student would truly engage in civil discourse. Would that not be nice?

That is what The Jefferson Council seeks. Not a one-way obscenity barrage, but a true intellectual discourse.

angela box
angela box
1 year ago

Now we will find out just how interested they are in actually improving things at the University.